As Christians celebrate the birth of our Lord, it is a time to be joyful and to reflect on God's gift to humankind. God became human and entered our world in a way that we did not expect, as a real and helpless baby. It is so easy for us to miss the gravity of that moment. Rather than citing bible verses or expounding on theological concepts offered by religious scholars across the centuries, perhaps there is another way to help us get a greater sense of the immensity of this event. Bear with me as I offer a contemporaneous and pop-cultural thought.
Currently, Disney+ is showcasing a new Star Wars series called, The Mandalorian. It is a tale of a mysterious bounty hunter who travels the Star Wars' galaxy using cleverness and violence to earn his living. But as the viewer comes to learn, there is another person integral to this story. A child of unknown origin. A being that many simply call, "Baby Yoda." He is the actual focus of this narrative. Besides being unquestionably cute, we come to learn that this baby has special powers. He can stop a raging beast, he can heal, and he can cause pain. While we have little information about where the child comes from, the bigger question that is on all of our minds is: what is his purpose? What is he intended to become? In each episode we hope to learn more about him. We are in the midst a riveting story that has many Americans hungry for more.
But imagine a story even more amazing. A baby is born in a stable. He is in the care of poor parents. There is no combat veteran protecting him. The child heals no one, and he shows no signs of possessing special abilities. And yet, there is something extraordinary about his story. Those around him react to him in unusual ways: curiosity (shepherds), fear (King Herod), praise (Simeon), worship (the Magi), and violence (the soldiers of Herod). All of these characters know the child is special, but they do not fully see what he is planning to do. In a similar fashion, there are millions of fans of The Mandalorian series who are curious about what "Baby Yoda" will grow to become.
Yet there is no mystery today about Jesus' purpose. Scripture reveals that God became human so that he might rescue all of us from our selfishness and sin. But so many of us have heard this story and viewed the nativity scene so many times that it has become mundane and cliche. It no longer amazes us as it should. This is a reaction that the Bible characters of Jesus' day do not exhibit. It is a disorder unique to our modern society.
If our culture could only hunger for knowing Jesus at the same level of excitement and wonder we now effuse about "Baby Yoda." Breaking free from our apathy about Jesus would force us to decide how to react to the baby born in a stable. But perhaps this is too dangerous a thing? For if history teaches us anything, it shows us that the options before us are not unlimited. Like the characters of Scripture we can respond to Jesus with curiosity, fear, praise, worship, or resistance. What will you choose this Christmas Day?